Star Witness Filly Upsets Favourites to Win G2 Eclipse
Consistent Star Witness filly Bellatrix Star upset the favourites and showed she will be a force to be reckoned with in the TAB Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m) later his month as she took out the Group II SKYCITY Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Pukekohe on Monday.
Trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson took a powerful two-pronged attack into the race with Bellatrix Star ($10.70) and her stablemate Move To Strike ($1.30) and the pair ended up fighting out a torrid three-way finish to the contest with second favourite Velocious ($4.40).
Velocious had beaten Bellatrix Star at their first meeting last month and looked likely to do it again when rider Sam Spratt shot her through an inside gap at the 300m to hit the front.
Bellatrix Star and Move To Strike were winding up further out and at the 100m they joined issue with Velocious before edging clear in the final stages as Bellatrix Star took the decision by a long head from I Am Invincible colt Move To Strike, with Velocious a length back in third.
Bellatrix Star (Star Witness) upsets the hot pots in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes
— TAB Racing (@TAB_Racing) January 1, 2024
Walker was pleased with both of his runners and felt a change in racing luck for the filly had played a major role in the victory.
“Last start she didn’t quite have all favours but ridden back a little further allowed her to show a really good turn of foot today,” Walker said.
“She is peaking at the right time for the Karaka Millions which has always been the target.
“I think the track conditions (Soft7) favoured her while the second horse (Move To Strike) also went really well.
“We will let the dust settle before we decide what to do with him, but she will go straight to the Karaka Millions.”
Rider Warren Kennedy felt the move to track Move To Strike into the race had played a big part in the success for his mount.
“I got shuffled back early on and probably would have gone the inside if I could have but I saw Opie (Bosson) on Move To Strike go wider and make a bit of room so I tracked him through,” he said.
“She had good momentum when I pulled her to the outside and she gave me a lovely kick.
“She has been a bit fierce in the past but was lovely and relaxed today which was the key as it gave her plenty for the finish.
“It was a lovely win, very courageous and now she is doing things right she will be a good chance for the Karaka Millions if she can reproduce what she did today.”
The victory resulted in Bellatrix Star now sitting at a Fixed Odds quote of $5.50 for the Karaka Millions 2YO behind another of her stablemates in Cool ‘N’ Fast who heads the market with Velocious at $4.
Bellatrix Star was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $80,000 out of Phoenix Park’s 2023 New Zealand Book 1 Sale draft on behalf of Fortuna Syndications and is the 24th stakes-winner for Widden Stud stalwart Star Witness.
Bred by Rob Dunnett, she was foaled and raised at Seymour Park in Victoria and is the best of two winners from Alana’s Party, a half-sister by Exceed and Excel to Group III placed Petition from Group I winner The Party Stand. A savvy purchase for just $17,000 from the 2021 Magic Million National Broodmare Sale for Mark Pilkington Management, Alana’s Party was carrying Bellatrix Star at the time.